Imagine this – you are walking down an amazing village street where the locals cater to tourists for their livelihood by making authentic trinkets and souvenirs, and knitting fabrics into various items…from baby outfits to sweaters and gloves. Everyone tells you how soft and pure his or her alpaca material is, since it is a prime feature of the region. After walking down the alley way of merchants we come to a private location where our tour guide seats us in a space where a young girl begins to describe the process of dying the material by using liquid that emerges from insects and other not-so-expected sources for spectrums of color. What emerges is the softest fabric you have ever felt made into a scarf. Along the way we found ourselves stopping to take a picture with an Alpaca whose hair (fiber) was lustrous, silky, and warm without lanolin, which makes it naturally hypoallergenic. Let’s just say everyone got something made from baby alpaca.
Why Peru? Why South America? Why Machu Picchu? Why the Sacred Valley? It is very simple. Because “we say so!” How wonderful is it to go somewhere just because you make a decision to go? World travel and travelling adventures should be care free and filled with the curiosity of country, language, culture and exposure to new things. Our CALE Kids are on track to go anywhere in the world, where they can live out our focus on culture, arts, leadership through volunteerism, and global exchange. This sense of discovery is perfect for the Peruvian experience. There are many facts about Peru that make it an obvious first destination for our program – the rich historical landmarks and wonders, the cultural accounts of exploration, discovery, war and religion. Or maybe it is the elaborate architecture, landscapes and environmental respect that provide a piece of indigenous perspective, which is lost in the modern world of technology. Honestly, there are many things that you could take into consideration when discussing how amazing PERU is to visit on our 1st trip for CALE Now!
Look out for the orientation session date for Spring 2014! Parents and students will be invited to attend an orientation session to learn about the CALE movement and its long-term benefits to the lives of participants, and to learn about the application process. The program will start Summer 2014. Stay tuned!
Talk about breathtaking! Not only was this one of the most beautiful views in the world, but you’ll be literally gasping for air if you run, like I did, up to the look out tower. You’ll look down on the grassy town square, alpacas, and cats, and look up at the Andes Mountains and clouds. No wonder it’s a wonder of the world!
We ate the alpaca! No, it didn’t taste like chicken. It actually tasted like stewed beef, and was pretty good. Keeping an open mind and being willing to try local cuisine is one of the greatest joys of international travel. Chances are, you won’t find the same foods at home. And, you just may taste something you love, or at least will never forget!
In the Sacred Valley we climbed 200 steps at Ollantayambo, an Inca archaeological site that was home to Inca royalty. Whew! CALE Kids, get prepared for a work out! We learned that Spanish conquistadors tore down one of the temples at the very top of the site, and carried the humongous rocks down those 200 steps to the base of the site, where they built a Catholic church.
Where is the best place to exchange money? Before even thinking about where, we have to know the exchange rate to be sure we get a good deal. So, off to one of our trusty sites (and there are many) to research….
1 US Dollar = XX Peruvian Nuevo Soles?
We found that the best thing to do for Peru was to exchange a small amount of money at the airport in the US – not necessarily where you’ll get the best rate, especially since they charge a transaction fee – but it’s convenient. It’s best to have a little local currency on hand for expected and unexpected expenses, like snacks, cabs, etc. You never know, so be prepared!
With a small amount of soles in hand, off we go. After arrival into Peru there are many other options. People will exchange your money on the streets. Bet you don’t see that in your neighborhood! Just be sure the person is wearing an official vest. You can also exchange your money at a bank or store. Look for the signs. We found the best rates in a small store in Lima.
Make wise decisions about your money by knowing how much it’s worth!